Microsoft has long had a thriving technical community. From members here on the Microsoft Tech Community forums to in-person events and more around the world, the community has supported learning, career development and personal development. Community initiatives, like SharePoint Saturdays that were already evolving to embrace more Microsoft 365 services, were deeply impacted by the pandemic. Those of us committed to supporting community, like Jeff Teper, myself and others, have been discussing the situation for some time and those discussions have led to the creation of the Microsoft Community Initiative.
The initiative embraces a central guiding principle. It is not led or controlled by Microsoft but instead directed by the community leaders themselves supported by Microsoft resources, talent, and tools around the world. We will do so in three key ways:
We are announcing the Microsoft Community Advisory Board. Members will directly influence the strategy, resources, and logistics of Microsoft 365 community programs. A joint steering committee of Microsoft and community leaders will gather feedback, make recommendations, and direct the resources provided by the Microsoft Community Support Program. The initial Microsoft members of the Advisory Board will be myself, Heather Newman, who brings the Power Platform and Dynamics 365 Communities to the table and Scott Hanselman for DotNet and Azure. We are excited to also add Mark Furr as our Global Community Events Lead. Each of us has a long history of participation in the community, which we believe will be helpful in supporting this program and its objectives and the support of our broader organizations.
The Community Support Program will deliver foundational support in the form of event marketing and speakers, along with identifying larger platforms and systems that can power the return of technical skilling events in the model of SharePoint Saturdays, hackathons and bootcamps. These free-to-attendee events, once held around the world, provided a foundation for connections, learning and fun. We envision a return to these in-person events while leveraging all we have learned about the inclusivity driven by the move to virtual events throughout the pandemic. Community leaders will decide what event format is best for their community with Microsoft providing event recommended practices, systems and tools for their delivery.
Currently titled “Microsoft Community Days”, this identifying event name for these community led events can also be expanded to include other types of events, such as “Power Platform Community Days”, “Azure Community Days”, and others as the community chooses. Based on feedback from community members we believe our support will allow new and existing community members to find, participate in, or run these events in any area they choose. Microsoft will support community leaders in bringing these events back to global locations.
When needed, we will scale the availability of the Microsoft Community Tenant that provides Microsoft 365 licenses to community leaders and a home for their collaboration experience. The Community Tenant, initially built to support User Groups and events during the pandemic, is an optional part of this program for the benefit of community leaders who not only want to host Teams meetings and content but train their members on Microsoft 365 services with hands-on knowledge. We will also continue our journey to integrate this experience with the Microsoft Tech Community site as well as the Power Platform and Dynamics 365 Community sites and new user group initiative launched last year.
We are excited to hear more from the community about your vision for the future of community events and engagements. We will all learn together what works well for different groups around the world and share that knowledge with each other. Get involved today by signing up for our Community Advisory Board and newsletter at https://aka.ms/MGCISignUp, follow us on Twitter at @MSFTAdoption or view nearby community events at CommuityDays.org.
Note: This blog post has been updated with relevant information from our original release announcement.